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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish 'Facebook' separates the sexes
FaceGlat is a social networking site for Orthodox Jews.
September 12th, 2011
08:34 PM ET

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish 'Facebook' separates the sexes

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Showing that modernity might, just might, find its place even in a world predisposed to the most traditional of customs, in walks FaceGlat: an ultra-Orthodox Jewish answer, at least for some, to Facebook.

Among the most conservative of Orthodox Jews, often referred to as Haredi Jews, modesty reigns. Women wear long sleeves and skirts, and they cover their hair after marriage. Men dress as their ancestors did centuries ago. The genders are separated in synagogues, on wedding dance floors and, in certain neighborhoods, on buses.

CNN reported this year on one community newspaper that went so far as to erase women from an iconic news photograph, all in an effort to uphold its values. The paper later apologized, not for its beliefs about modesty and featuring women in photographs but for how the matter was handled.

So social media – which, in the case of Facebook, invite sharing, tagging and gawking at photographs, among other interactions – may not be the most welcoming space for people with this kind of faith.

A 20-something self-taught website builder out of Israel, Yaakov Swisa, seems to be trying to change this.

Ynetnews, an English-language Israeli news site, reported in late July the establishment of FaceGlat, a Swisa-made social network that segregates men and women, blocks immodest advertisements and pictures, and uses a filter to keep language in comments and status updates clean.

“People who are God-fearing and care about their children’s education cannot tolerate the ads and pictures one sees on the regular Facebook,” Ynetnews wrote, quoting Swisa. “I personally know people who have deteriorated spiritually because of all kinds of things they were introduced to there.”

The name FaceGlat is a blending of Facebook with the word glatt, as in “glatt kosher,” the highest level of kosher when it comes to Jewish dietary laws surrounding meat.

FaceGlat, Ynetnews reported Swisa as saying, is “not an alternative for Facebook” but rather “a cleaner option for those who are already there. If it encourages people to open accounts or waste their time instead of studying Torah – it’s a failure. It’s not worth a thing. I promised myself that if that happened I would close it down.”

According to a Le Monde report, posted late last week on Worldcrunch, a still-open FaceGlat has more than 2,000 users and is getting about 100 new accounts per week.

Le Monde said Swisa is administering his fledgling site with “a lot of improvisation.” And even though upon signing up with FaceGlat, members are separated by gender into two distinct networks (click left to join the women, right to join the men), the French newspaper reported that Swisa is looking to purchase software that will automatically find and delete photographs revealing too much skin. Le Monde also said that although his website is available in English and Hebrew, Swisa plans to translate it into Russian and French.

“Orthodox Jews need the Internet, at home and at work alike,” Swisa told Le Monde. “My website allows them to browse freely, while offering maximum security.”

Swisa, who could not be reached Monday for comment, reportedly is a resident of Kfar Chabad in Israel. That village is connected to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, a Hasidic Jewish branch that represents just one expression of ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

Chabad-Lubavitch is known for its outreach in the secular world and has long used technology “to broadcast Jewish values to a global audience,” said Yaacov Behrman, a spokesman for Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.

“Internet, as all media, has both positive and negative aspects,” Behrman said. “The decision of whether to have Internet in the home or not is an individual one. It is imperative for parents to monitor the level of access made available to their children,” and that’s relevant no matter how religious the family is.

But for many others living in the Haredi or ultra-Orthodox world, use of media – including television, films and secular newspapers - is greatly discouraged. Social media, especially, are “like the Wild West,” said Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, an advocacy organization for Haredi Jews.

“Internet is fully accepted for work purposes” and can only be used in the home with “strict control,” Shafran said. “Social media is still where the line is drawn.”

He said, “The very medium itself is something we tend to shun because it’s something that’s not easily contained. Once a person’s involved, it tends to take over one’s life. … We prefer people to meet their friends by turning to them and talking to them.”

So whether FaceGlat can gain much of a following in the social media scramble remains questionable. Even Behrman of Chabad-Lubavitch, who emphasized that the new site has no official connection to his movement, isn’t a member.

“Nope,” Behrman said. “I use Facebook.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Culture wars • Judaism • Technology

soundoff (576 Responses)
  1. ColoredMountains

    Way to go. Man-like women made the male population cowardly and run after under-age girls or to other men. This trend must be stopped.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Aprilcot26

      Uh...what?

      September 13, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  2. Reality

    For the "reading challenged":

    SAVING 15.5 MILLION ORTHODOX FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
    ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

    SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
    THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
    THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY

    Added details upon request.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • Marci

      I feel sorry for your soul.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Steve

      Where did you get these statistics? And why is it that Buddhism, Mormonism, Thaoism, ... and all the other nonsense like Atheism are not included? Perhaps you think you are smarter than them. Look around dude, all the science, technology, art, politics, literature masterpieces you see around is 99.9% by what you claimed "did not exist". Get a life.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Tanker

      Buzz Kill....

      September 13, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Tripp

      I myself am an Atheist but I must say your rant has no merit and no understanding.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Mensch

      SAVING THE WORLD FROM REALITY:
      PRICELESS

      September 13, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Reality

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      The First Five of the 77 Branches:

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
      alone."
      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

      Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

      September 13, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/Disease:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery

      September 13, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • claybigsby

      "I feel sorry for your soul."

      I feel sorry for your brain.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Steve

      Mr. Truly Unreal reality! Instead of putting your brainless head into Quran and other books, why do not you answer the questions I posed? The founding founder, Blaise Pascal, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Khawrawzmi, Spielberg, ... and countless names of Christian, Jewish, Islamic background were wrong in their profession of faith, and you are right with your nonsense jibberish? Like a said," what you really need is a life!" Go find it, buddy

      September 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • More Real

      I have a question for Reality... You posed at your original claims, SAVING... for all major religions. If you do not believe in them, why do you quote Rabbis, Christian thinkers, ... ?? Weird, Perhaps your conscious is not leaving you alone, haah? Just a thought!

      September 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  3. Rags

    Just what the world needs – more control freaks. Who died and left those losers in charge?

    September 13, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  4. Sparky

    So, given the opportunity, Orthodox Jews want to act like Wahhabi Muslims. You can only act this backward if you have lots of money. Which the US provides to both sides.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  5. Jess

    It is incorrect to state that Haredi men dress the way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. The black suits they wear are in a style only worn since the end of the 19th century, if even that. Long coats were worn by all men until the early 20th century.Their hats are also from the same era. There is noting Jewish about their attire. It's all made up in a cultic style.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:20 am |
  6. hendeeze

    create division, inspire hate

    September 13, 2011 at 7:05 am |
  7. The POPE

    Jewish woman covering herself called Modesty and Muslim woman covering herself called oppression .
    I am confused !

    September 13, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • Tanker

      Both Jewish and Muslim women cover their faces so you won't know what you are getting into until its too late.

      Trust me, dated both.

      After having a Jewish girl whine at your, a Muslim girl planting a bomb in your car sound REAL good...

      September 13, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  8. Paul

    This is part of what's wrong with the world.
    People WANT to remain segregated.
    L'chaim goofballs

    September 13, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  9. timestickin

    What a waste of people..........!

    September 13, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  10. JJ

    Funny, these idiots behave the same way as orthodox muslims. Both are equally useless.

    September 13, 2011 at 6:34 am |
    • Tanker

      Orthodox Jews are not usless.

      Ever get good bagels at a fundamentalist muslim bakery?

      September 13, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  11. Alex

    backward people, I think those people controlled by their fundamentalist Rabi s

    September 13, 2011 at 6:28 am |
  12. robert

    Keep subjugating your women to second class status you wacky Jews. Why would God have half of his human creation be treated in such a fashion? Believers in this system should go to the mikva and have their brain washed!

    September 13, 2011 at 6:08 am |
    • GAWGAW

      They already have brain-wash! Mwahahahaha 😛

      September 13, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • claybigsby

      or go to a chrisitan church....they are experts at brainwashing.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • CL

      If you actually do any study into Judaism, you will find that women are not considered 2nd class citizens. Further more, the article does not denote them as such.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Michelle

      CL is correct. Your post reflects no understanding of Judaism, though it does betray baseless prejudice toward it. You, sir, are quite foolish, and an embarrassment to all who cherish their abilities to, you know...think and reason.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  13. Rob

    I find it interesting that when we read an article like this people are quick to condemn a religion. Religion is part of the moral fabric of this world. I know there those who'd love to see all religion disappear. What I'd say to them is just like I have the right to practice a religion they have a right not to. I see nothing wrong with a religion as long as it doesn't cause physical harm (i.e. mutilation, torture, abuse or murder etc.) to it's members or others.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:55 am |
    • Thinker23

      People always condemn someone else's beliefs and the atheists are no exception. Traditional religions try to explain the world around us by actions of a supreme being(s). Atheism is based on an assumption that the Universe came into existence all by itself from nothing. It's up to each one of us to decide which one of these two possibilities is more plausible.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • Chaim

      Hey, Rob. That's an interesting position to take when religious indoctrination of children is child abuse.
      I'm all for letting you live your religious life as long as you don't harm others, but your religion contains words from your "god" that command harm to others.
      How to get around this small, yet persistent problem?
      Religious freedom is already curbed to a certain extent. In order to minimize harm to others, religion needs to be curbed a little more. Not enough to take it away from believers who already believe, but just to stop the spread of your psychic poison to others as this does indeed harm them.
      Just an idea that obviously needs a lot of work, but the goal is to minimize harm. If the choice is between the life of a child and your religion, the child wins. If you disagree, I would probably get a good eye-roll from your attempts to get around such a scenario. Crazy people can be very imaginative. Religion needs to fade away in a slow death. Your freedom of religion would be "grandfathered in" but would not be allowed to transfer to any other human being.
      What do you think?

      September 13, 2011 at 6:17 am |
    • In Reason I Trust

      Religions are a terrible delusion, you deserve the right to practice them but we reserve the right to point out how utterly ridiculous they all are and this article is a prime example.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Rags

      So you think it's OK to control the way certain people of your religion dress, act, think. What if the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak. Would you have an issue with being 'required' by someone else on how to dress, act, think?
      Same with those silly burlap hooded burkas, full body coverings, etc. Are you people so ashamed of your women that you insist on hiding them from everybody's sight?
      Your women must be ugly and fat or very unsightly.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Tripp

      Religion is NOT the moral fabric of the world. If it were 9/11 would never have happend. Stupid humans fight and kill over their imaginary friend for 1000's of years and goes back even further to the polytheistic civilizations before that. Stupid people beleive in stupid things that dont exist. Read the bible and replace god/jesus/lord with the the god "Zues" and you'll get the picture.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  14. jc

    Is there a story here? Excuse me if I yawn.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:39 am |
  15. MDC

    I agree. Advertising deteriorates my spirit, as well.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  16. Hilo, HI

    How warped. Shame on them.
    Another reason why the world is better off without religions.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:43 am |
    • Thinker23

      There is no "world without religions". There is a world where people having certain beliefs are convinced that people having different beliefs are bad and wrong. For example, YOU believe that YOUR beliefs are correct while other religions would better be eradicated...

      September 13, 2011 at 5:32 am |
  17. Frank

    there are multiple muslim social network sites that do the same thing.. but for some reason CNN doesn't report about them.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:27 am |
    • HaHa

      Name one.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • Salad Spinner

      CarBomb.com When only anonymous death will do.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • Lucas Lee

      I'm sure somebody reported on them, Frank

      September 13, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  18. Joel

    oy vey

    September 13, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  19. triloci

    What a bunch of fairy-tale believing dunderheads.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:36 am |
  20. jerry west

    for all of you who can not believe there are so many faithless hate filled souls but think a "one world order"would be ok look to the comments here. you will not be able to pursue your on beliefs. you will be hunted arrested and driven from public view much like communist china russia and nazi germany. God does exist. look around you. as for those of you who do not believe why do you thrust your belief on us who do? does it affect your life how we believe? and i'm sure our jewish brethern have not given up on their faith either.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:19 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.